A few nights ago, the snow was falling softly down. I was coming home from a Christmas party, and when I stepped out of the car it surprised me at how calm and quiet everything was. There were no traffic noises, no sirens. No bustle of activity on our usually busy street. Just a peaceful night. I stood there for a few minutes, and as I watched the silent snow I thought of another still and silent night, long ago in Bethlehem.
I wonder why the song suggests it was a silent night. Bethlehem was a bustling, busy place in the middle of a census. There wasn’t any room at the inn for Mary and Joseph because it was full. Full of men, women and children. And many of them likely had some animals with them. I imagine it was actually quite noisy, but I can’t be sure because I wasn’t there. All I can do is imagine…
Imagine what it would have been like to be able to witness the birth of Jesus. To see the manger bed. To stand beside the shepherds. To hear the sweet baby noises, and marvel at such a beautiful thing. To kneel down on the dusty, crumbled ground and look into the face of a King.
I’ve heard the Christmas story for years. From a very small child, I’ve heard of the story of a baby born in a manger. I’ve had nativity sets in my home. I’ve read the Bible passages and the cute little storybooks with the colourful pictures. I’ve seen (and acted in) plays and pageants. Perhaps, if I’m being honest, because of all of that it seemed a little stale to me.
But as I stood watching the snow on that silent night, I was flooded with the truth. That a heavenly King, who on that still night, was nestled in the arms of a girl in a cave. That when laying in a manger, He looked like just another helpless baby. But this baby was the God who knew the thoughts and lives of all the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, and all those who came to see him. This baby was the One who would drive out demons, who would heal a man who couldn’t walk and one who couldn’t see. This baby was the One who would speak to the dead and make them alive again. This baby would suffer and die a terrible death, reserved for the worst types of criminals, to be the hope of all the world. This baby knew what would be, and yet He still came.
He came for the broken hearts. He came for the lonely, the sick, the weak, the poor, the neglected, the needy. He came for those who feel unloved, unappreciated, uninvited, unacceptable. He came for you. He came for me. And He did it all because of love. Because love is the most powerful entity in the world. Love repairs what is broken. Love unites us all. And Jesus, born in a manger, was the embodiment of love.
The snow was falling harder and it was getting cold. A siren somewhere off in the distance pierced the silence. I crunched through the snow to the front door to my house, thankful for a baby who gives life and hope to anyone who chooses to receive Him.